5 design trend predictions for vegan food brands

There’s no denying the huge surge in popularity that vegan food brands have experienced over the past couple of years.

With more and more people adopting the vegan diet or just choosing meat-free options now and again, the number of vegan products on the market has skyrocketed. At the forefront of all the most successful vegan food businesses comes great design – from the product itself, to the branding and the packaging.

Today we’re looking into our crystal ball and offering some of our design trend predictions that we can see vegan food brands adopting this year.

 

Personality-driven packaging

From plant milks and meat alternatives, to non-dairy cheeses and chocolates, the key to some of the most successful vegan branding seems to be personality-driven packaging.

Vegan businesses aren’t shy about making a statement and having an attitude. Popular plant-based brand, Oatly is a prime example.

Their packaging and adverts feature bold straplines including “It’s like milk, but made for humans” and “Post-milk generation”, alongside short, funny clips touching on the company’s work and environmental mission.

Much in the same way that Innocent Smoothies provide their audience with witty and tongue-in-cheek humour, Oatly’s packaging provides some light-hearted personality that showcases their ethics while making people laugh.

It clearly works, and we can see more and more vegan brands adopting this tactic going forward.

Meaty visuals

In the past, vegetarian and vegan brands often stuck to traditional, natural-looking branding. Featuring greens, browns and earthy tones, their aim was often to appeal to the health conscious animal lovers.

But developing mainstream appeal in 2021 will require brands to attract more than just devoted vegans.

With more and more people adopting the “meat-free Monday” lifestyle – reducing their meat and dairy intake for environmental reasons – some vegan food businesses are moving away from the traditional imagery and branding associated with vegetarian diets.

Brands such as Oumph and THIS have adopted controversial “meaty” visuals for their meat replacement products. Because not all vegans necessarily have an aversion to meat, and many do miss bacon, burgers and chicken nuggets from time to time.

Providing mouth-watering imagery helps brands cater to the less health-conscious, more indulgent side of their customers.

Shift in language

With more people cutting down their meat intake on a weekly basis, and adopting the “flexitarian” lifestyle, we’re starting to see a shift in the language used by vegan food businesses as well.

Flexitarians generally still include meat and dairy in their diets, but they make vegan and vegetarian choices where possible. So they might not necessarily relate to vegan messaging, but they’re also not hardcore carnivores.

By avoiding traditional associations of veganism, and focusing on the taste rather than the ethics, brands can lower the risk of alienating anyone. So rather than shouting about what they are not – meat, dairy, etc – some businesses are trying to focus on what they are – delicious food that’s a great alternative for everyone.

Finding a way to connect with vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and meat-eaters alike will be more important than ever, and this shift in language will allow vegan food businesses to establish themselves as great products in their own right, rather than just “the vegan option”.

Ditching plastic

There are many reasons why people choose to eat less meat and dairy in their diets, but over the past few years we’ve really started to learn the benefits that veganism has on the planet.

Many people are adopting the vegetarian lifestyle in order to have a direct impact on the environment, so it makes sense that most vegan food businesses have sustainability at their core.

As an extension of this, many vegan and vegetarian brands already use sustainable packaging such as paper, cardboard and other compostable materials, but we anticipate that more and more companies will be pledging to ditch the plastic going forward.

Eco-friendly packaging is having its moment right now, and is set to become a huge industry in the coming years. While all companies will eventually need to adopt these new packaging options, we’re sure that the vegan brands will be leading the way.

Carbon-labelling

To many, it felt revolutionary when nutritional information became a permanent fixture on food packaging and menus in restaurants. Now, some companies are practicing a new kind of controversial transparency.

In the same way that the traffic light system has become shorthand for how healthy a food product is, carbon emission calculations have the potential to provide a quick glance at how sustainable the product is as well.

With sustainability at the forefront of everyone’s minds these days – not just vegans – the impact our purchases have on the planet is a big selling point (or deterrent) for many of us.

While the nutritional information doesn’t necessarily give you the full picture, and we’re sure carbon labelling will be the same – it would certainly be a step in the right direction to give consumers a choice on what they’re really purchasing.

Could carbon labelling be the future for food products? Quite possibly. But whatever happens, we’re sure vegan food brands will be the first in line to sign up.

If you’re a vegan food business and you want to make an impact with your branding in 2021, give us a shout. We’ve worked with dozens of foodies over the past 10 years to develop strong branding concepts that work for their audiences.

 

Or, if you’d like to read more of our hot takes on the latest design and marketing trends, follow our blog.

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